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Tuesday September 22, 2020

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Monitoring Solutions for Loved Ones with Dementia

My husband, who lives at home, has dementia and I worry about him wandering off and not being able to get back. Can you recommend some monitoring technology devices or any other solutions that can help me keep tabs on him?

This is a concern for millions of Americans caring for a loved one with dementia at home. According to the Alzheimer's Association, about 60% of people who suffer from dementia wander at some point.

For caregivers, this can be frightening because many of those who wander end up confused and lost, even in their own neighborhood. Additionally, they are unable to communicate who they are or where they live. Here are some product and service solutions that may help.

Simple Solutions

For starters, there are a number of simple home modification solutions to keep your husband from wandering away. Some solutions include adding an extra lock on the top or bottom of the exterior doors out of the line of sight or installing door alarms on the exterior doors that let you know when they are opened. Also, you should keep your car keys in a secure location if you are concerned that he will try to drive. There are a variety of product solutions in this category.

You should alert your neighbors that your husband may wander so they can keep an eye out. Have a recent picture of him on hand to show around the neighborhood or to the police if he does get lost.

Monitoring Technology

For high-tech solutions, there are a variety of wearable GPS tracking devices that can help you keep tabs on him. Some popular options to consider include AngelSense, which can be attached to clothing or worn around the waist; wristwatches like the Theora Connect or NurtureWatch; and the GPS SmartSole, which is a shoe insole tracker.

All of these types of products come with smartphone apps that would alert you if your husband were to wander beyond a pre-established safe area and would let you know where to find him if he did. These products, with the exception of the GPS SmartSole, also provide two-way voice communication and auto pickup speakerphone so you can talk to him if he wanders.

Locating Services

If the previously listed options do not work for you, there are also locating services – like the MedicAlert + Safe Return program and Vitals Aware Services – that can help you in these situations.

The MedicAlert + Safe Return program comes with a personalized ID bracelet that would have your husband's medical information engraved on it, along with his membership number and the toll-free MedicAlert emergency phone number. If he goes missing, you would call 911 and report it to the local police department who would begin a search, and then report it to MedicAlert. If a Good Samaritan or police officer were to find him, they could call the MedicAlert number to get him back home.

The Vitals Aware Service works a bit differently. This is a free app-based network system that comes with a small beacon that your husband would wear. If he did go missing, anyone in the Vitals app network community that came within 80 feet of him would receive an alert and information about him so they could contact you.

Another option that could help, depending on where you live, is a radio frequency locater service like SafetyNet and Project Lifesaver, which are offered by some local law enforcement agencies. With these services, your husband would wear a wristband that contains a radio transmitter that emits tracking signals. If he goes missing, you would contact the local authorities who would send out rescue personnel who will use their tracking equipment to locate him. Visit SafetyNetTracking.com and Projectlifesaver.org to see if these services are available in your community.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published January 24, 2020
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